Joined: 16 Dec 2009
|Posted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:41 pm Post subject: The Obama Foreign Policy
|George Jonas: The statist model
Every removal of a legal safeguard is justified by the need — often valid — to protect society, but ends up as the protection of the state from its citizens.
Yes, Barack Obama, who ran on the slogan “can do,” may have done it. He may have turned America from a superpower into a paper tiger. But don’t expect to read about it in the headlines for a while yet.
You rarely see epoch-making news in the headlines, only what’s currently making waves on the surface. The tsunami that will change the shoreline rushes along the ocean floor, unmonitored and unheralded.
U.S. foreign policy is in tatters, with Syria out of control, Egypt flirting with Russia, and Saudi Arabia seeking protection from — who knows, maybe from Israel. The nuclear ayatollahs of Iran are imitating Hitler in the 1930s. We’ve reached the nadir this month, when the socialist government of France had to act as Churchill to Obama’s Chamberlain. As for Afghanistan, never mind winning, Obama seems unable to even run away. This week he’s seeking to commit troops on the ground until 2024.
But don’t look for headlines before Tehran actually tests the bomb.
Obama’s strategy is fairly straightforward. Reduced to five words, it’s “Deprive at home, appease abroad.” Deprive what? Citizens of choice, as in Obamacare, and money of value. How? Old-fashioned liberals tax and spend, Obama-brand liberals spend and print. It’s foolproof. Trillion becomes just a word. Given sufficient inflation, it may even become a denomination on a banknote.
Appease abroad needs no explanation. It’s also foolproof. It’s already bearing fruit in the Middle East.
Obama isn’t alone. All governments are prone to what I’ve called creeping Guantanamo Bay-ism: The gradual transformation of the state into a potential police-state. A Kafkaesque shift from the rule of law to the rule of administrative expediency has emerged over the years partly as a defensive response against the burgeoning totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century, and partly as an adaptation to them. While fighting the enemy, in this case Nazi- and communist-type despotism or “offensive” statism, liberal democracies absorbed and internalized quite a few of their philosophies and methods.
A paper tiger to enemies, a real tiger to its own subjects: this is the statist model, with its ever-expanding areas of restrictions, limitations, surveillance and extra-judicial sanctions. Every removal of a legal safeguard is justified by the need — often valid — to protect society against the depredations of criminals and terrorists, but ends up as the protection of the state from its citizens.
The suspension of rights is narrow to begin with. Only aliens suspected of terrorism are held without charges. Forfeiture of property is aimed solely at members of organized crime. Soon, however, the draconian or extra-judicial becomes the norm until a person’s property may be confiscated by the state, as in today’s America, not just before he’s convicted, but even accused, of any crime.
When a society reaches this stage, citizens have much more to worry about than cronyism or corruption. Guantanamo Bay-ism threatens to change the nature of democracies to resemble all the evil empires they had fought and will fight in the foreseeable future. Except they will be their enemy’s dead ringers.
It’s not only America’s quasi-Marxist liberals or law-and-order-obsessed Conservatives. Around the time of the Gomery inquiry, then-Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler in Canada was all set to push through legislation that would have made Adscam’s potential for harm seem small beer. One bill would have let government monitor email and Internet communications and oblige service providers to share their customers’ records with the police when requested; the other bill, called the Proceeds of Crime Act, would have allowed the authorities to seize anyone’s assets obtained through crime — before convicting them in court.
I escaped Eastern Europe 58 years ago because it had laws like this — but never mind Eastern Europe. A bill like C–53 turns back the clock to before the Magna Carta. Yet most headlines were about Adscam, a picnic in comparison, not the Liberal bill.
The tsunami is rushing along the bottom of the ocean. For now read about it in the back pages, with the rest of tomorrow’s news. It’s not yet headline material. It will be, when it makes landfall, before long.